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Community Member

Stylus and Feedback in Speedgrader

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I use a microsoft surface book (PC) with a stylus to annotate .pdf essays downloaded from Canvas.  I have a couple of questions:

1.  Is it possible to use the stylus directly in speedgrader.  I know that there is a button, but the stylus doesn't write well while in the speedgrader app.  Considering that the stylus writes well in other apps, I suspect the problem is speedgrader.  Am I doing something wrong or overlooking something?  This seems like it should be a fundamental part of online grading.  It's disappointing to say the least.

2.  Since I can find no way to use the stylus in a decent manner in speedgrader, I typically download all of the .pdf files and open them with a stylus friendly app on my PC to annotate them.  I then save them all and reupload them to the student accounts.  However, the file appears in an inconspicuous spot under the comments section on the right margin.  It simply appears as a link and the students have to download the file.  Since it's so unobvious where the feedback is, many students can't find it and I need to waste valuable classroom time to show them how to do it.  Basically, is there a way to upload the file so the annotations show in the main assignment window for the students so the students don't have to search for the file with the feedback?  BTW, the program I use to annotate is called drawboard.

1 Solution

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Judging by the Google results, this is a very popular question. As I write this, there is no Canvas Instructor or Teacher app for the Windows Surface Pro. This means that using the stylus on that device for markup in Speedgrader is useless, since it would mean using the web version, which is clunky at best. 

I just don't understand why there is an Android app, which works gloriously for markup on my Samsung Note 9, and yet when I demoed the Windows Surface Pro at Best Buy there's no way to replicate the same experience. I'm not getting an iPad because I am not an Apple user, nor will I ever be one. 

Marking papers is a huge part of my job, and my workflow is almost as circuitous as the old Blackboard days, when I would just mark up on paper and upload PDFs. I'm not going back to that, brothers and sisters. 

Should I be shopping for the latest stylus Android tablets just so I can mark papers in Canvas, or will there come a day when there is an app for the Windows Pro, or Windows at all? 

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24 Replies
Community Member

This is making me absolutely crazy and I have spent entirely too long trying to figure out a solution. Please let me know if you find out what the problem is.

Community Member

Please improve this feature. The way it is now barely works. I agree 100% with Jason. 

Explorer II

 @jamalone ‌. I do not believe it is possible to do what you describe. You can initiates feature request though:

In the meantime, if it were me, I would make a tutorial to show students how to access feedback and post the tutorial in Canvas to avoid using class time. 

That at is not the answer you want, of course, but I hope it helps!

Community Coach
Community Coach

 @jamalone ‌ ~

You mention using the SpeedGrader app. In the summer of 2017, Canvas Teacher‌ was released, and SpeedGrader was retired. Do you grade using the older SpeedGrader app, or do you use Canvas Teacher? I think the experience with Canvas Teacher is much nicer.

 @rseilham ‌ even recorded a demo using an Apple Pen with Canvas Teacher

Community Coach
Community Coach

The absolutely best experience for using a stylus to grade with Canvas is on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. The process is fairly seamless and doesn't require any third party software. Of course, the experience with other Apple stylus or Android devices is exception as well. As for Windows surface type devices, I think the experience is not greatly optimized with the web version of Canvas - and with the iOS and Android options - I'm not sure if there is a better solution in the near future. 

Community Member

I use a Surface Pro 4 Tablet and what I find most disappointing is that my stylus worked fine previously with Canvas when (I believe it was) CrocDoc was used for viewing and annotating in SpeedGrader.  The change to DocViewer removed the beautiful functionality that I had.

If you have not already, please vote for: to try to get this problem fixed!

BTW - I also use drawboard pdf.  It is great.  I even use it when making video solutions to homework assignments, quizzes and exams.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Good feedback. I have a few Surface tablets at school and I'll make it a point to test this out. 


I've used the Ipad and Apple Pencil with great success. 

Now i'm using a Surface Pro laptop and it is horrible.  The stylus writes and moves the page at the same time.  Is this a Surface thing or the canvas website?

Would also love to see this fixed. At this moment, it is indeed impossible to write using, for example, Surface devices ...